Lymphatic Mapping Improves Staging and Reduces Morbidity in Women Undergoing Total Mastectomy for Breast Carcinoma

Langer, Samantha; Guenther, J. Michael; Haigh, Philip I.; Difronzo, L. Andrew
October 2004
American Surgeon;Oct2004, Vol. 70 Issue 10, p881
Academic Journal
Lymphatic mapping (LM) and sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) have become widely accepted in the setting of breast conservation surgery. We hypothesized that LM can be extended to women undergoing total mastectomy, being technically feasible, yielding highly accurate and sensitive results, improving axillary staging, and reducing postoperative morbidity. Between 1995 and 2003, 99 women (mean age 59 years, range 34-87) underwent 100 mastectomies with LM using blue dye alone. Fifty-nine operations (60%) were followed by a completion axillary lymph node dissection (ALND). Ninety per cent of patients had invasive carcinoma; 10 per cent had in situ carcinoma. Mean tumor size was 2.5 cm (range 0.3-8 cm). One hundred fifty-nine sentinel nodes (SNs) (mean 1.65, range 1-5) were successfully identified in 96 (96%) axillae. Twenty-five (25%) sentinel nodes revealed nodal metastases. Five of 25 (20%) SNs had micrometasteses. Three patients had a false-negative SN, yielding a sensitivity of 91 per cent. The accuracy of LM was 97 per cent. No patient who underwent SLNB alone developed lymphedema, axillary seroma formation, infection, or restricted arm movement. This was contrasted with patients undergoing ALND, where 10 (16%) developed lymphedema and 2 (3%) developed an infection. Ten (25%) patients developed axillary paresthesias after SNB compared with 47 (78%) patients after ALND (P < 0.0001). LM in the setting of mastectomy is accurate and sensitive. This technique improves axillary staging and decreases morbidity. Patients who are not candidates for breast conservation should be offered LM and SLNB at the time of mastectomy.


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